Creek restoration follows natural channels and uses native species to let nature take over—with a little help
Creeks play a valuable ecological role in the landscape. Along with providing habitat for aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, they also play a role in flood control, and are places for recreation. When 2.2 miles of Sand Creek, a tributary of Coon Creek, was classified as “impaired” for failing to meet federal standards for aquatic life due to excess sediment and phosphorus, poor habitat, and altered hydrology—we collaborated with the Coon Creek Watershed District and Minnesota DNR on the Middle Sand Creek Corridor Restoration.
Project goals included reducing sediment and nutrient loading from bank erosion, enhancing habitat to better support native fish and aquatic life, and lessening the impacts of altered hydrology, while still providing adequate flood conveyance. We incorporated natural channel design principles into the project, including using materials harvested on site, such as logs and root wads, to limit the use of rock and other hard materials. We even restored natural channel form and function by following some of the original meanders, creating opportunities for floodplain reconnection.
The project was constructed over two years to allow the newly constructed meanders to properly vegetate. Additionally, creek banks were reinforced with shrubs to help reduce erosion. Multiple species of trees and shrubs were planted to increase forest diversity and replace the trees harvested during construction. Along with our partners, we’re pleased to give nature a helping hand in restoring a creek to its important natural function.
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